This Swiss meringue buttercream recipe is your foolproof guide to achieving an easy, thick, and velvety smooth frosting perfect for decorating everything from show-stopping presentations to everyday desserts!
With clear instructions and a few simple ingredients, this resulting swiss meringue rivals any American buttercream, or dare I say it? Even better than a basic cream cheese frosting!
Swiss meringue is a stable buttercream frosting which means it's meant for slathering, coating, layering, and filling. It's thick and will not be runny or drippy and will hold its shape, unlike a glaze or a variety of thinner icings. It makes a stunning outer frosting for fancy cakes and piping cupcakes, but it's simple enough to make for an everyday dessert. Although, you'll probably want to keep this for special occasions! No one needs to know how little effort really went into making it!
It's not overly sweet like the American version, and it is not tangy like a basic cream cheese frosting. It is, however, light, buttery, and delicately sweet, which means it complements most desserts. When the ratio of buttercream to pastry (or whatever baked good you're adding it to) is just right, you get the perfect balance of creamy texture and perfect sweetness in every bite.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream vs American Buttercream
Let's be honest, there's never a wrong time for frosting, no matter where it originated. Except maybe when it comes out of a jar from the grocery store. You won't disagree once you try your hand at homemade buttercream. There is nothing like it!
Swiss Meringue buttercream is made with egg whites and when beaten with the sugar it creates that signature airy meringue base as we see in macaron cookies. It's silky, it's light and it's less sweet than American buttercream.
American buttercream doesn't have as many moving parts when it comes to the process. There's no need to whip egg whites or use a double boiler, but it's sweeter and not as light.
They both serve their purpose and are used in a wide variety of desserts and the good news is, once you know how to make both, you'll never have to stick to just one!
How to Make It
In a stand-up mixer bowl or a large heat-safe glass bowl, add the egg whites and sugar and place it over a pot of water over medium heat.
Whisk until the sugar has dissolved completely and the mixture is smooth. This could take up to 20 minutes.
With the whisk attachment, beat on medium speed until the mixture is completely cool and stiff peaks have formed.
Add butter a little at a time, beating continuously until it's completely combined. Add in the vanilla and beat on high to combine for about 1 minute.
Your frosting is complete!
Tips for Making Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- Make sure your egg whites have cooled completely before adding the butter otherwise the residual heat will melt the butter.
- You can use granulated sugar instead of fine/caster sugar, just keep in mind it will take longer to dissolve.
- If you are not using your stand-up mixer bowl but rather a glass bowl, the glass will retain the heat longer, so it will take longer for your egg whites to cool.
- Make sure to have your butter at room temperature before you begin. Take it out at least half an hour before you begin. Longer if your house is generally cooler.
- Test to see if the sugar has dissolved by placing a bit of the egg white/sugar mixture between your fingers. You will not longer feel any granules once it has completely dissolved.
- Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks, meaning when you dip your paddle or whisk in there to lift some up, it basically holds its shape. They should also have a glossy sheen to them.
Swiss meringue buttercream is stable and will keep its texture at room temperature for a couple of days when covered. If you know you'll be using it immediately, by all means, leave it out for a bit. After that, refrigerate it for up to 5 days.
Freeze this buttercream for up to 3 months, in an airtight container. Thaw in the fridge the night before you want to use it.
If you've thawed your buttercream overnight from frozen, or it's been sitting in the fridge for a few days, you'll want to whip it again for a few minutes to get it back to its nice, smooth, and creamy texture it started out as.
Don't fret, it's totally fixable! Place your buttercream back into a heat-proof bowl, and place over a pot of simmering water, like you did to begin with. This time, do not stir and leave it for just a couple of minutes. You want to give it just enough time to let the outer edges of the buttercream melt but the remaining buttercream will still be solid. Remove the bowl from the heat and mix on low for another couple of minutes to allow the melted parts to incorporate with the rest, creating a once again, smooth consistency.
When you are looking for the perfect buttercream then I hope you try this Swiss Meringue Buttercream, and let me know how it goes. Enjoy!
Swiss Meringue Buttercream Recipe
- 3 large egg whites
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar (fruit/caster/fine) (225 grams)
- 1¼ cup + 1 ½ tablespoons butter (soft - cubed) (313 grams)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Either in your standup mixer bowl or a large heat safe glass bowl add the egg whites and sugar, then place it over a pot of water over medium heat and whisk until the sugar has dissolved, this will take about 15-20 minutes, you can feel between your fingers when the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is smooth.
- Then with the whisk attachment beat on medium speed until the mixture is completely cool and the mixture has thickened, about 10-15 minutes, add the butter a little at a time beating continuously until completely combined, add the vanilla and beat on high to combine about 1 minute. You should then have a smooth creamy frosting. Enjoy!